The Survivalists was developed by Team17, known for games like Overcooked, Moving Out, Worms, and The Escapists; is based in the same universe as The Escapists. The Survivalists abandons you on a stranded island with little but your wits and love of crafting to survive. The main goal of the game is rather straightforward: Escape the island. At the beginning of the game, it may seem a daunting task, however, as you learn more recipes and blueprints to craft and make plenty of monkey friends along the way your goal can easily be within reach. Using your monkey helpers to gather resources across multiple islands you craft things like forges, beds, decorations, and more crafting stations. You are not alone on the island as there are orcs and wild animals that are set to end your existence. The Survivalists is a fun little jaunt into island survival that can be rather addictive.
Monkeys abound! Within the first few minutes of the game, you will come across your first monkey to rescue. They repay you by following you everywhere and doing your bidding. Monkey helpers can craft items, gather resources, help fend off attackers, and carry your luggage. Having a large number of monkeys at your disposal is imperative for a smooth-running operation. You’ll need help gathering a large number of resources so you can build everything you need to finally escape the islands. Traversing the many islands on the map is dangerous, so bring several monkey bodyguards to help fight with you. I enjoy the multitude of monkeys at the player’s disposal. If you are worried about confusing monkeys, worry not, they are relatively customizable. You can change their names and color of fur. If you have purchased the 3 dollar DLC you can even give them adorable hats! The tutorial section of the game has a ton of information on all the things you can get your monkeys to do.
Once you have your monkey helpers you will need to build a base camp. You will start building small things like rope or wooden sticks. Eventually, you will need to build a campfire and a crafting bench to build more complicated things. You will find structures in your “blueprints” button. When I first started playing my camp was just dashed together, I had assumed I would have the option of moving buildings later, however, that is not possible. You cannot move your structures unless you destroy them first, and you cannot rotate any of the items to make it more aesthetically pleasing. However, I did find that laying the blueprints of everything I wanted to build first gave me more of an idea of where I wanted to put things as I gathered the resources to build those structures. I was a little brought down by the fact that you also are unable to control the camera at all, so there are potentially lots of little areas that will remain undiscovered. I was at least hoping for a cutaway of the scenery to still see my character, however, that is also not a feature.
Eventually, you will come across a group of orcs or very angry wildlife that will attack you, be sure to arm yourself to the best of your ability as these enemies have some really handy resources like meat and gold that you will want to stockpile. Combat is fairly clunky on the Xbox as you can only target things immediately left, right, up, or down. I found attacking things diagonally is incredibly difficult and usually ends in me getting my health reduced to zero. This is where teaching monkeys how to fight becomes imperative. You can arm your monkeys and have them battle for you, but you still may wind up dead and lose all of the items you are carrying. I have found myself roaming the islands with five monkeys with me, four to fight, and one carrying a chest in case the worst should happen. Bows and arrows can fire on a diagonal, however, I still haven’tquite mastered exactly HOW that works. It seems to just do it randomly. Of course, I survive on luck alone in most of the games I play.
All in all, I think The Survivalists is definitely worth your time. We picked up a couple of extra copies to play together and even sprung for the extra DLC. It is an affordable game and packed with lots of good times you can spend with your family and friends, braving the hostile island life. I would not only recommend this game, but I would also urge you to check out some of Team 17’s other games they have. They may not be story-driven intense combat games, but I have found they are incredibly wholesome and enjoyable. There are a couple of things I would love to see, but I don’t think they take away from the sheer enjoyment and novelty of this game.